Camino Postcard 15: Honatas to Castrojeriz

Day Three on the Meseta

I slept badly last night; the dorm was too warm and one of the other pilgrims snored too loudly. I couldn’t be angry, though; the heat was good for our boots and as for the snoring pilgrim, well, who is perfect? As it happens, I am prone to snoring as well, and goodness knows how many other imperfections I have that other people find annoying.

We did not eat breakfast in Honatas but hit the road straight after getting dressed. It was not a comfortable walk – my boots were still very damp from yesterday. Only from tomorrow would they start to feel dry again.

Before we left the albergue, an American pilgrim reminded me of a neat trick I had first learnt in Roncesvalles: put newspaper in your boots; it helps soak the wet/dampness up. I remembered her advice thereafter and it never failed me. How does paper soak water up so effectively? I would love to know the science of it!

When we left Honatas, the weather was dry. Alas, it didn’t stay like that for long. Thankfully, though, the rain was not heavy and we were spared the sleet and slow. Not that the weather showed us any mercy. Around mid-morning, hailstones began to fall. One struck Ellena in the eye – fortunately no damage was done.

The hailstones were so vicious we paused to take refuge next to the wall of the Arco San Antón. It was ‘just’ a ruin so didn’t keep us dry but it did allow us to turn our back on the hail stones until the shower stopped.

Prior to the hailstorm, we passed a finger of stone (photo below) on the hillside next to the path. It was, no doubt, all that remained of some building or another but in its desolation under the heavy clouds it had a real Tolkien-esque feeling about it.

After passing the ruin, we had to negotiate a huge puddle, which I almost slipped into. I came so close to doing so that I feared I had soaked my boots through for the second day in a row. Fortunately, I managed to avoid that fate by a hair’s breadth.

At St. Anthony’s Arch the hail storm soon stopped and we continued on our way. Not long later, an ambulance whizzed past us in the opposite direction; it was a salutary reminder of the dangers that the Camino can sometimes pose.

A long, little used, road took us to Castrojeriz. While walking, we met Lillian, and saw two dogs playing with each other in a field. Lillian was her usual bubbly self and the dogs looked like they were having a rare old time. It was all very heart lifting – which we needed after the hail.

As we approached Castrojeriz, the rain stopped and two rainbows appeared. One of them, as you can see in the photograph below, actually ended on the nearside of the hill. I should have gone to see if I could find the pot of gold!

When I mentioned this to Ellena and Carolin, the joke belied the fact that money was concerning me again: discussing it takes up half a page in my journal entry for today. I was still spending too much.

We arrived in Castrojeriz before midday and stopped at a café. Still suffering from the effects of yesterday’s weather, no one had the heart to continue and so, although the albergue would not open for another two and a half hours, we decided to stay there for the night.

It was a good decision. The albergue, built around a courtyard, had nice, smallish dorms. The hospitaleros cooked the meal, an oriental dish, which was very tasty. The other pilgrims were very friendly and we met Tony again, which lifted everyone’s spirits.

Although we did not know it at the time, today was the last day we had to walk in really bad weather. From now on, the weather would be at worst too hot; there would be rain, of course, but nothing like we experienced today and yesterday. In this respect, we got lucky because we did hear of snow coming down in one or two of the higher up locations along the Camino Francés. By the time we reached them, however, the snow had melted away and the weather was fine again.

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